When teaching soccer to beginners, keep your expectations in line with the skill set of your players and expose them to basic defensive and offensive drills. Focus on basic techniques, such as proper kicking form and dribbling, rather than advanced concepts, such as slide tackling or goalkeeping.
Dribbling the ball means moving the ball around the field using your feet. It’s a core skill in soccer, and critical to a player’s ability to move and keep the ball. Start with basic dribbling, where the player taps the ball with her foot while jogging slowly. Line the kids up and have them dribble in a circle around the field. Focus on teaching the players to kick in only small amounts as part of their running motion, keeping the ball close. As the players advance, teach them to speed up, then slow down to throw off a defender.
Soccer balls aren’t kicked with your toe. You use the lace-covered part of your foot for the most power and best control. This drill is often a good way to close practice as the players may be tired. Sit the players down on the grass and have them remove their socks, shoes and shin guards. Holding the ball with their hands, have the players kick the ball straight up in the air while pointing their toe. This gives them good practice getting a feel for where the ball should contact their foot. Once they can hit the ball twice with their bare foot, have them stand up. Once up, set the players in a line and let them kick toward the goal, practicing the power and accuracy required for a goal-winning kick.
Passing enables beginning players to get the ball to another teammate without losing possession. Pair the players up and lead them onto the field, one ball per pair. Send the pair down the field, practicing passing back and forth. When they hit the midfield, send the next pair. Continue until all players are at the opposite end. The pair with the most passes wins a small prize, if you want to make it a competition. Take the drill to the next level by sending the pairs down, with the lead pair setting the course in a follow-the-leader passing drill.
To keep the opposing team from scoring, players need to learn to defend. A classic drill is to play keepaway. Keep the game simple, but rotate the players to ensure everyone has a turn. To play keepaway, identify one player from whom the other players must keep the ball away — use a pinnie or mesh vest to define the player. Standing in a circle, have the players pass the ball, endeavoring to keep the ball form the identified player. If the group is large, or feelings are getting hurt, divide into smaller groups so that more than one player gets the role of having the ball kept away. As the group begins to understand, divide the team in two and practice keeping the ball from the opposing side, similar to an actual game.
Ensure that your players are properly equipped for practice and drills. Each player should have, at a minimum, shin guards and athletic shoes. While soccer cleats are helpful, many leagues don’t require them until later ages. Also, players shouldn’t wear jewelry of any kind, including earrings or a watch. In case of collision, earrings and watches are potential injury hazards both to the player and to the person with whom the player collides.